Karen Hess spent Memorial Day in her mother's blue uniform.

"My mom was a very special lady," she said. "And she was a soldier just like my dad."

But Hilda Herman was no ordinary soldier. As a longtime veterans advocate and Ladies Auxiliary member of West York VFW Post 8951, she served her country by helping vets, Hess said. She died on April 26 at the age of 81.

In honor of Herman, speakers went off-script during the Memorial Day service at Veterans Memorial Park in York City. They presented a certificate to Hess and her father, Ron, that honors Hilda Herman for her contributions to veterans in York County.

"We're very proud of the time that she spent working — not only supporting me, but working with the veterans," said Ron Herman, of West Manchester Township. "She had the sacrifice along with me."

Esmilse Rodriguez, 16, of the William Penn JROTC Honor Guard stands at attention during the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem at the
Esmilse Rodriguez, 16, of the William Penn JROTC Honor Guard stands at attention during the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem at the annual York County Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park. (John A. Pavoncello - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Dedication: Hilda Herman was born in Germany and married Ron there, as the U.S. Army vet was stationed in her home country.

They were married for 55 years, and she became a U.S. citizen and worked with her husband to support those who serve, he said.

"I came back in one piece and am able to help others," Ron Herman said. "We remember the dead by helping the living."

"And that's what my mom did," Hess said.

Her mother would make prayer shawls for churches as well as blankets, scarves and cooling wraps for soldiers overseas, she said. Hilda also laid memorial wreaths for many years at the Memorial Day service, the West Manchester Township resident said.

This year, it was Hess' turn to lay a wreath.

"I just had to come here today to do what she did," she said. "And I'm honored."

Other memories: Hundreds of people attended the ceremony, which William Kochenour described as "a memorial gone by of the people that served our country."

The West Manchester Township resident said he came to remember quite a few people, especially World War II vets who have served the country and are no longer here.

Kochenour, an Army vet who served during the Cold War, said he also fondly remembers Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for bringing the Allies together and accelerating the Normandy invasion 70 years ago.

Harry Miller of Springettsbury Township doesn't always attend the service, but he said he was glad he did this year.

"It was nice — really nice," he said. "And it seems like it's picking up each year."

For him, Memorial Day is about family.

In 1950, Miller enlisted in the Army as a 19-year-old, he said. Since then, seven of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons have been inspired by his service and enlisted in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Miller said.

One great-grandson tells Miller that he wants to be just like him, he said.

"I get goosebumps," he said. "It's a good feeling."

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.